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I would say that Bound South is a group of connected short stories. There’s not really one plot that connects the chapters. Instead, I would say that the author uses these stories, told from the points of view of three different Southern ladies, to explore issues they each face and how hard it can be to move past them, even when they try.
I thought the author did a fantastic job giving each character her own voice. With each story being written in first person, it was very important that she get this right and she did. Louise, the upper-class society matron who holds some surprising views; Caroline, her teenage daughter who is constantly seeking; and Missy, their housekeeper’s daughter who tries to hold tight to religion in an increasingly sinful world. Each told her own story in her own way and had something to contribute to the story.
At times funny, sometimes sad, and always thought-provoking, some of the issues the women face are the obvious, such as race, sexual orientation/identity, poverty, religion, and a middle-aged woman’s constantly shifting role in her children’s lives. Some of the others are not so obvious, such as the surprising directions exploitation can come from, stupid choices that can affect your whole life, how sometimes you’re not the only one who carries the weight of your sins, and how hard it is to watch your children make mistakes. But these women face each challenge as it comes, do the best they can, and try to learn from it.
I loved this passage, as Louise is thinking about her daughter:
“How do I tell her that what I want is to know her, to know the woman who made these birds, to see what she might become if she is allowed to spread out, to expand. How do I say, Darling, please. Don’t shrink yourself so soon.” (Emphasis is the author’s)
But I like to feel a connection to the characters I’m reading about and that never happened for me in this book. I loved that I was forced to think about my own beliefs and values, but I did miss that connection. That’s why I only gave it three stars. But readers who don’t mind that and who want to see what a Southern woman has to say about some current issues, should pick this up.
Reviewed May 3, 2009